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How to Write a Great Closing to Your Brief

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 09, 2017 1:59 PM

A closing argument should be like opening a door, not closing one.

After writing a brief to persuade your audience, you want to finish it by inviting your reader to step through that door to reach your conclusion. It should be more than compelling; it should be impossibly irresistible.

This post is about how to do it. If you have read this far, then you are ready for that next step:

The Next Chapter

Take a page from Charles Dickens, the author of the David Copperfield novel and a master at leading readers to the next chapter. That's because the book was first published as a serial in monthly installments. He had to end each chapter with his audience begging for more.

Most legal writers often have readers who are begging them to stop. Just ask any judge who prioritizes required reading by thickness of the briefs. They really do not want to read them all -- and sometimes they don't.

So for those who just skip to the end, closing arguments are really important. Bryan Garner, writing for the ABA Journal, warns against repeating the same arguments and words. He suggests a "pithy summary" that contains a couple of catchy words.

"The point is to find some way of making your points a little differently at the end," he said. This fits well with the general advice for persuasive writing, which is to follow Hemingway's example.

Rethink, Rewrite

Garner also recommends taking time to rewrite. Taking a break can help you re-orient and see the brief for what it is: a mess of words or persuasive poetry.

Daniel Real, an assistant professor the Creighton School of Law, says to let your words sit for a day. "Then review it and identify matters that need to be revised or edited," he wrote for the ABA.

In rewriting, you may find a different ending to your story than you originally planned. If you have a fresh perspective, that's fantastic because you want your reader to see it that way, too.

In the end, you want your audience to say, "wow, that's right," not "thank goodness, that's over."

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